Perhaps love is like is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort
It is there to keep you warm
–John Denver, “Perhaps Love”
The Great Bagel Snafu
Last Wednesday, the new assistant principal bought bagels and coffee for the entire staff. I moseyed over to the teacher’s lounge and grabbed a bagel.
On my way to class, a teacher said, “The new assistant principal seems like a good guy. He said he came out of retirement to work here.”
“Was he in the teacher’s lounge?” I asked.
“Holy mackerel! I didn’t realize that. I didn’t say ‘thanks’ to our our bagel benefactor. He’ll think I’m an ungrateful dolt.”
My guilty feeling hung like a dark cloud over my head.
A Second Chance
At 10:30 am my class went to the art room and there was the assistant principal repairing a computer.
This is my opportunity to redeem myself, I thought.
I walked over to the assistant principal and said,
“Thanks for the bagels and coffee this morning. I’m Terry Sprouse, long term sub in room 15.”
“You’re welcome. I’m Jim Francis, assistant principal and retired geometry teacher.”
“I guess it’s true, old geometry teachers don’t die, they just go off on a tangent,” I said.
I had received a second chance to correct my earlier oversight and this time I got it right.
I was reminded about when my dad passed away in 1982. He had been hospitalized after a heart attack. Each night after work, I would go hang out with him. We would watch a movie on TV, or joke about the painting class we had been taking together.
One night a violent rain and thunder storm hit. The streets were flooded and I couldn’t make it to the hospital to see my dad. I was awakened by a knock at my door at 4:00 in the morning. There were two police officers there.
“Are you Terry Sprouse?” one policeman asked.
“Your mother called because the phones lines down. She wants you to go to the hospital.”
“Thanks,” I said weakly, as I imagined the bad news that awaited me at the hospital.
I drove to the hospital. The rain had stopped.
“You’re father passed away early this morning,” my mom said. I felt disheartened because I wasn’t there with him at the end of his life.
That feeling stayed with me for many years.
A Chance to Balance the Scales
Then last year, my mother passed away.
“She only has a few hours to live,” the doctor said when my son and I arrived at the hospital.
I felt heartache, but I also had a deep feeling of gratefulness because I could be there to share her final hours. It was like I had gotten a second chance to make up for not being with my dad when he passed away.
What I learned is that life often gives us a second chance to balance the scales. The next time I fail to do the right thing, I will watch for a second chance to come around.
These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.
Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.